Goodbye Philly

Tonight we took the five hour flight (more like six if you count the hour we sat on the runway in Philadelphia) back to Vegas.

I enjoyed the three-day conference and Vickey enjoyed the five-day getaway. (Keep in mind I also represented Las Vegas in the national assembly before the conference, so it was actually a four-day PRSA commitment for me.)

Together we spent some time sightseeing around Philadelphia on Sunday. It was very cool to see the old buildings and Liberty Bell, roam the Reading Terminal Market, eat some pretty amazing food and just be in a city.

I’m reminded of when I left New York City in 1997, I affirmed that if I were to live in a city again, I’d live the ‘other’ life, or that of someone who could do whatever he wanted because money was no object. I just like big cities. The energy is great. And Philadelphia feels like a New York City, just on a smaller scale. I didn’t realize it’s the country’s fourth largest metro area.

I very much enjoyed the general conference sessions and keynote speakers. It was also eye opening to hear from the award recipients. I think I’ve reaffirmed (guess I like that word tonight) my profession. I believe I made a good choice; this is a good fit for me. There are some terrific role models and very successful public relations practitioners and just all-round good people out there.

One call out to Mitt Romney: Donna Brazile wants to ‘sniff’ you. She was one of the main speakers today and spoke on the country’s current political conundrum (for those of you who don’t know, she was Gore’s campaign manager in 2000). Her approach was of looking for the best relationship; she wants to date all the candidates before making a decision and wondered aloud whether Mitt Romney would smell like ‘Old Spice and everything nice or something entirely new and exciting.’ It was a pretty funny comment.

And while I’m on the Romney subject, how about accepting Tim Russert’s invitation to appear on Meet the Press? You too, Giuliani.

The PRSA’s conference theme was innovation and there was certainly a majority of discussion on social media (not our profession’s word for it, but the commonly accepted term, so by defacto – our word for it). I’ve been inspired to do even more online…so stay tuned.

Some of my best Philly memories from this trip, besides the conference: a Philly cheesesteak sandwich from Pat’s King of Steaks where you get in trouble if you don’t follow instructions when ordering (huh Vickey?), bruschetta at Criniti in South Philly, ice cream at The Franklin Fountain near Penn’s Landing, and spending time with Vickey. It was a good getaway.

Regarding the constitution of the United States, it is truly amazing to me that that document was created, ratified and supported by our founding fathers. I did not know that the original document included a condemnation of slavery. That part, of course, was removed in 1776, but the right idea did finally prevail.

I have no doubt that the constitution came about as a result of divine intervention. One could argue social and world forces coming together to create just the right circumstances under which such a document could be produced. In the same vein, one can argue the influence of God in bringing to pass such a radically different approach to government.

Vickey purchased some candy for the kids from the country’s oldest candy shop. We walked on cobblestone roads and pathways traversed by some of the first U.S. settlers. We visited Betsy Ross’s home. Did you know she had three husbands and outlived them all? Vickey got to tour the private art collection of Dr. Barnes, operated by The Barnes Foundation.

It is just awe inspiring to be in a place so replete with history, somewhere that doesn’t dynamite buildings to reinvent itself every decade or two.

I have yet another initiative that’s been rekindled: securing Las Vegas as the 2011 PRSA conference destination. I began working on this idea after last year’s conference in Salt Lake City. I figured, if PRSA was willing to go to Salt Lake, surely they’ll go to Las Vegas. I was wrong.

Over the past year I have met opposition to the idea of PRSA’s conference being in Las Vegas from just about every staff member and national board person I’ve discussed the idea with. However, individual PRSA members seem enthused and even excited at the prospect.

So, my challenge, if I’m really able to focus on it with everything else that’s going on in our life, is to convince the powers that be that Las Vegas would, indeed, be a suitable and even desirable location for the conference.

I guess this is my final report on the Philadelphia trip. It was great fun and a true professional development experience.

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